Why B2B Marketing Is Very Different From B2C Marketing

Most ad agencies, marketers and copywriters do B2C campaigns.

In such competitive consumer markets, the most regurgitated “how to market” slogan is “Sell the Benefits. Not the Features”

And that’s true… for B2C.

You see, when marketed to a consumer, it’s not the physical product that matters, it’s what’s referred to as the “functional” product that the buyer is interested about, which means…

A consumer wants the feeling of desire satisfaction that the product will provide

And that’s why when asking a B2C copywriter if he can write a piece for a B2B campaign his answer will most likely be “Sure thing. It doesn’t matter at all because at the end of the day the buyer is a person, and buying is an irrational decision. Making the benefits irresistible is all there’s to it.”

He’s wrong, let me explain:

The fact that the buyer is a human being is unquestionable, and he’s right about buying – it’s a scientific fact that a buying decision is initially made in a part of the brain which processes irrational thoughts, but…

There’s a big difference when buying in a B2B scenario

And it has to do with how the buyer is pre-framed in such a scenario –

The first thing to acknowledge in a B2B transaction is that the buyer wants to be sold in the first place.

Truth be told –

No consumer admittedly wants to be sold.

In fact, a consumer can pretty well go on with his life without buying what the seller is selling, and here’s proof –

How many times have you walked into a store (with the intention of buying), but we all know what happens when the clerk walks over and asks “may I help you?”…

Yup – we all say “no thank you, I’m just looking”, and that’s simply because we don’t like the feeling of being sold (we all have a built-in mechanism called the salesman alarm that goes off every time we’re approached by what seems to be a salesperson).

But in the B2B selling scenario, the buyer, i.e. the business owner or representative on the other side wants what the seller is selling and he wants the seller to sell it to him.

Proof? Here you go – when you have a leaky pipe at home, you walk in the hardware store and you look for the clerk to come to you and you tell him I need a new pipe. You don’t go to the store “just looking”.

And that’s simply because in that scenario you’re not playing the role of a consumer because you can’t go on without that new pipe.

In that scenario, your a business owner, and your business is your home.

The same applies to a B2B transaction when you’re selling to an engineer or an executive –

They come to you in the first place wanting your service

So now that that’s established, we can understand why the physical product, i.e. the features, play a very important part of the sales message in a B2B scenario – because the buyer is performing his due diligence, comparing competitive products by features.

Now, that’s not to say that he’ll eventually decide which product to buy upon this logical process… not at all!

This is a human being we’re talking about, and so he’ll eventually decide irrationally:

Based on a gut feeling

Based on his feelings towards one seller over the other (guys, it’s a shame to admit it but with all other aspects the same, an attractive woman will most likely be preferable than the knowledgeable geek… how many times have we fallen for that?… )

Based on trust or feelings towards a certain brand (which may not have the best product by feature)

But regardless of the final decision – the sales message must revolve around the product features that the buyer is most interested in, and trying to carry the sale solely based on consumer-style benefits and hype will create a strong repulsion by the professional buyer, who will feel insulted by such a shallow sales pitch